Identity theft can cause you huge headaches, but having your house sold without your knowledge is among the worst kind of outcome that can result. Take steps to prevent identity theft and fraud by:
- Checking your credit reports (www.equifax.ca, www.transunion.ca), credit card and bank statements regularly for inconsistencies, unknown charges and unauthorized credit inquiries.
- Not giving out personal information unless you know who you are dealing with, how it will be used, and if it will be shared. (Talk to your parents/grandparents about not giving information over the phone. They know it is wrong but often our seniors still give it out to the fraudster)
- Protecting your mail and being aware if bills don’t arrive on time.
- Shredding all documents with personal or financial information.
Safeguarding your PIN and decline the “remember me” on-line option for financial cards. PIN’s should be as long as possible to prevent the fraudster from breaking the code using an electronic device that runs hundreds of combinations within seconds. Anything that is 6-8 digits long will likely not be breakable as long as it is not 111111111, 222222222 etc.
If you are a victim of mail theft you need to contact both bureaus and instruct them NOT to advance credit without contacting you first. They will record a telephone number on your file so that no lender can consider an application for credit without speaking to you directly ONLY on the number listed. Therefore, you need to make sure it is a number you can be easily reached at and make sure you contact the bureaus if you make any changes to your phone number.
If your identity is stolen, you will have difficulties obtaining credit for years. Be sure to get a police report verifying your claim that your identity was stolen. Get letters from the creditors and ask to see the applications you made and ask them how they verified the information was truthful before granting credit to the fraudster. Keep this file for 7 years. You will have to give these documents whenever you are seeking credit.